15 April 2014

Blogging Will Resume Shortly

We are leaving on a motorcycle trip next week.  By request of friends and family, I'm going to blog the trip like I did a few years ago when we rode to Alaska.p

10 February 2013

Why I Stopped Blogging

I am officially putting this blog to rest.  It will take comments for a few more weeks, then the comments will be turned off.  Eventually the blog will be deleted.

I began this blog back when there were far, far fewer blogs.  It was fun; it was different, and I enjoyed creating topics.   There are now millions upon millions of blogs, blogs covering more topics than can be imagined.  In truth, there are more blogs than there are worthwhile topics.

Being original became a high hurdle.  I don't want to write a political blog - heaven knows there are already too many of those - and I don't want to be a news aggregator.  Instapundit and others have that field covered.  And the big problem with topical blogs is trolls.  Trolls and spammers ruin many blogs' comments sections.  Just look at what happens on the Althouse blog to see what I mean.

I'm out of ideas, at least ideas I can blog about.  I never wanted this to be a blog about family, or about my private life.  I protect the privacy of both like a pit bull. 

Blogging about the same thing day after day, or the same theme every day is simply boring and frustrating, and I don't want to do it.

So thanks for reading and thanks for your comments.  They were appreciated. 

Best wishes,


22 July 2012

I Should Start Blogging Again

It's been a while since my last post, and people keep coming by to read and leave comments.

Maybe I should re-start this blog.

29 September 2011

Don Rich Should Be In The Country Music Hall Of Fame

Who's Don Rich?  That's the great Buck Owens in the video, isn't it?

Yep.  That's Buck Owens in a video of Buck Owens and The Buckaroos performing at Carnegie Hall in 1966.  That show was recorded live, converted to vinyl records, and is considered by many to be one of the finest live country music records of all time.

Don Rich is the harmony singer and guitar player in the blue suit. Don Rich was the reason Buck Owens sounded like Buck Owens.

Don Rich was a very talented musician and singer.  He opened for Elvis Presley at concerts in 1957; he was only 16 years old at the time and still a high school student. He met Buck Owens in 1958, then joined Owens in 1960 after completing one year of college.  Rich had planned to be a music teacher.

Don Rich played on every Buck Owens record and in every Buck Owens concert from 1960 until the date of his death in a motorcycle accident in 1974.  He helped form Owens' backup band, the Buckaroos, wrote and scored Owens' songs, and developed the "Bakersfield sound" that made Buck Owens and The Buckaroos music distinct and different from other country western music.

Ringo Starr was a fan.  He collected all of Buck Owens records and recorded Act Naturally on the Beatles Help! album.  Ringo wanted the Beatles to record an album of Buck Owens songs; Lennon and McCartney thought otherwise.

Buck Owens stopped performing the day Don Rich died.  Owens was heartbroken at his friend's death, and couldn't talk about it for years afterward.

Owens lobbied hard, year after year, for Don Rich to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  He once interrupted his own live performance on an awards show to plead with the CMA to induct his friend into the Hall of Fame.  Rich has not yet been inducted.  He should be.

Ten years after Buck Owens stopped performing Dwight Yoakum knocked on Owens door in Bakersfield. Yoakam was in Bakersfield playing a concert and wanted to see if Buck would sing one song with him.  Owens reluctantly said yes and performed Streets of Bakersfield with Yoakam.

A few months later they performed in Austin, here:

"All" Dwight Yoakam did was mimic the late Don Rich.  What a fitting tribute!

Don Rich should inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

11 September 2011

September 11, 2011

I remember every second of that day - September 11, 2001 - ten years later.  The television images of the burning tower, then the second airliner crashing into the second tower as cameras recorded it.  I remember every moment.

I remember thinking about the burning buildings, and thinking that the steel cannot support the building at such high temperatures.  And then they came down, one at a time.  Horrible.  Trapped people believing that their only way our was to jump ninety stories.

We must never forget what happened on September 11, 2011 in lower Manhattan, Washington DC and farm field in Pennsylvania.

27 April 2011

Beaver Dam Peppers

Surprises can come from the most unusual circumstances, like the lovely surprise I had this week.

My dad's parents emigrated from Eastern Europe just before the start of the Second World War.  They came from Apatin, a small village in what was then in Yugoslavia, and although they spoke a German dialect, they sometimes identified themselves as Hungarian.  It's easy to understand why - the national borders where they lived shifted frequently.

They settled in Beaver Dam, a small community in south central Wisconsin, on a block were others from their part of Europe also settled.

My grandfather died before I was born.  I have a photo of him taken with his co-workers in Beaver Dam at the Louis Ziegler Brewing Company where he worked as a brewmaster.

My grandmother was years younger than my grandfather and outlived him by decades.  I have many wonderful memories of her.  I have photos of her taken when she was in her forties and older.  Imagine Mother Theresa, but a little taller and heavier, with one eye, and the same loving disposition as the sainted nun.

She had been a cook on a wealthy family's estate in the old country, and wow, could she cook!  Any conversation  with cousins about Grandma soon lapses into memories of her cooking doughnuts, or baking cakes and cookies, or making filo dough, or her own noodles, or her goulash, especially her goulash.

My grandparents, like many immigrants, made do with very little money.  They grew their own vegetables in a huge garden, and harvested fruit on trees planted in their yard.  Their basement was filled with jars of canned vegetables and preserved fruit for winter eating.  And there were barrels of home-brewed beer, home made wine, bottles of brandy, rye and bourbon whiskeys.

I remember Grandma showing me how to take the seeds out of peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables, dry them on a windowsill, and save them in an envelope for the next planting.

Goulash, who doesn't love goulash?

I can smell Grandma's goulash now, just as it was when simmering all afternoon on the old stove in Grandma's kitchen.  Rich stock, beef, onions, garlic, caraway seeds and plenty of paprika.  Served in a bowl, over noodles she made earlier in the day, a bit of sour cream on top.  Indescribably delicious!

Grandma made her own paprika, crushing what she called Hungarian peppers, grown in her garden beginning with seeds she brought with her when she immigrated. The peppers were grown, picked, dried, and crushed to powder after the seeds were saved for the next year's crop.

The gardening gene runs deep in my ancestral DNA.  My cousin Laura is in the middle of preparing her garden for this season.  She sent me a message - "Hey!! Did you know that some seed companies sell seeds and plants for an heirloom pepper called the Beaver Dam pepper??  Try Google for 'Beaver Dam peppers!"

What?  I Googled Beaver Dam peppers and sat stunned for a few moments when I read "...Hungarian heirloom brought to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in 1929.  Crunchy fruits are mildly hot when seeded.  Excellent flavor, ripens from lime-green to red"

Those are Grandma's peppers!  Oh my gosh!  Good Lord. What a surprise.

I sat for a few minutes, remembering that some of my uncles ate the peppers raw cut into rings and mixed with sour cream.  A bit more time on the internet and I found a comment about someone's old relatives eating the peppers sliced, with sour cream.  I was stunned, happily.

Other stories I found on Google describe a different family that brought the the same seeds to America a few years earlier; they also lived in Beaver Dam, in the same block where my grandparents lived.

I don't doubt that they all sat together on the big front porch on the old house on Mill Street on a warm summer's evening, laughing, playing cards, drinking home-made kimmel and beer, and eating peppers with sour cream.  I can hear their voices, their accents, their jokes floating back in my memory from a time when I was three or four years old.  The memories embraced me like a warm wool blanket left on the clothesline to dry on a warm spring afternoon.

I'm not a gardener.  I tried several times to plant a garden, but never wound up with the abundance of beautiful produce others always seem to harvest from their gardens.  It seemed easier to just go to a farmers' market and buy produce grown by others who have the skills, time and patience I lack.

This year will be different.  I have ordered some starter Beaver Dam pepper plants and will lovingly tend them until harvest time.  And I'll save some of their seeds in an envelope for next year's garden.

Those are my peppers; the seeds came from my people.  As did I.

23 February 2011

An Interesting Story

This is a re-posting of a story I wrote a few months ago on a different blog.  Most of my regular readers haven't read the story because they don't know about the other blog.

I want to tell an interesting story; interesting to me, at least, since I heard it from a friend and it's about musicians.

My friend,  I'll call him Mr. B here, called last Friday to ask if I'd like to meet at our favorite bar for a beer.  Of course I would; that's what friend are for, and I always enjoy spending time with Mr. B.

Mr. B is an interesting guy.  He's a high-powered lobbyist with offices in several of the fifty-seven states as well as in DC.  He's also an amateur musician with a garage band and is a fan of rock and roll.  We're the same age and like the same kinds of music.

We were talking about rock and I mentioned having received an email from my son telling me that Levon Helm is going to play near Chicago this summer, and asking whether I'd like to go with him to the concert.  Mr. B's eyes lit up and he said "Let me tell you how I almost met Levon Helm."

Here is the story:

Back fifteen years or so, Mr. B's student intern approached him at work and said "Boss, my girlfriend Amy and I are graduating from the University of Wisconsin in a couple of weeks.  Amy is a music major and wants to sing for her family and friends, some thirty people, after the graduation ceremony.  She reserved a back room in a bar near campus, but they've canceled the reservation because they expect a large crowd that day.  Would it be okay if Amy sang in your sun room or on your patio instead?"

So Mr. B said "okay", and ordered some food, beer, wine and rented some extra chairs for the event.

On graduation day, after the ceremony, Mr. B's intern and his girlfriend Amy arrive at Mr. B's home.  The intern says "Mr. B, I'd like you to meet my girlfriend, Amy Helm."    Mr. B says "Very nice to meet you, Amy, and congratulations on your graduation."

The intern says "Mr. B, You probably didn't know this, but Amy is Levon Helm's daughter."

Whoa. Levon Helm?  Who isn't a fan of Levon Helm?  Mr. B. asked Amy if her parents were going to be at the party, and Amy explained that her parents had divorced many years ago.  Her mother remarried and would be at the party with her stepfather, but not her dad.

A few minutes later Amy walks up to Mr. B and says "Mr. B, I'd like to introduce you to my mother and my step father, Donald Fagen."  Mr. B damn near passes out.  He's a life-long Steely Dan fan, and here's Donald Fagen in his living room.  The exchange pleasantries and Amy begins to sing.  She sings and plays guitar for an hour and it's wonderful.

Donald Fagen hangs out at the rear of the crowd, shy, not really interacting.  He disappears for a while and goes upstairs where a babysitter is taking care of the B's young children.  Mr. B learns later that Donald Fagen sat on the floor with his kids and sang nursery rhymes.

The Amy Helm concert ends and the guests drift out.  When there are only a few people left, Donald Fagen asks Mr. B if it would be okay to play the B's piano.  Mr. B says okay, and Donald Fagen sits down and plays Steely Dan songs for thirty minutes.  At Mr. B's piano, in Mr. B's family room.

At the end of it, the extended Helm family offers their thanks and everyone leaves.

Two weeks later a FedEx parcel arrives.  It's from Donald Fagen and includes a lovely letter, an autographed picture of Donald Fagen with Mr. and Mrs. B, two tickets to a Steely Dan concert in NYC, several CDs and a photo of Donald Fagen playing piano in the B's family room.

How cool is that?

Here's a great vid of Levon Helm singing "The Weight", a song made popular when Levon was the drummer for The Band.  You'll see Amy Helm singing backup in this vid, right next to Sheryl Crow.  Sing along with the chorus.  You know the words.

You might notice a guitar player who's wearing a fedora.  That's Buddy Miller, one of the best studio musicians in Nashville, or the world for that matter. Buddy has several CDs of his own, some with his wife Julie.  Buy one.  They are exceptional.  Buddy writes and performs "roots" music; music that harkens back to the beginning of country, rock and blues music.  How good is Buddy Miller?  Well, Robert Plant picked him to tour with Plant and Alison Kraus when they toured for the Raising Sand CD (another CD you should own).

Levon Helm has been in declining health of late.  He has suffered two bouts of throat cancer that silenced his voice for quite a few months.  He's touring again this summer, and I hope it doesn't become a "farewell" tour.  If you don't have a recent Levon Helm CD, I suggest "Electric Dirt", another paean to roots music.  The title song "Dirt Farmer" can be viewed on YouTube.

And since part of Mr. B's interesting story is about Donald Fagen, here's a vid of a song you'll no doubt remember.

Wasn't that a cool story?  And don't you wish that you had been at that party?  I sure do!

05 January 2011

A Special Topic For Those Struggling With New Years' Resolutions

Food!  Yummy food!  
Food you promised not to eat until that twenty, thirty or fifty pounds melted off of your frame.  Food that if eaten will keep your swim suit or bikini in the drawer for another season.

Photos taken last month at the newly-remodeled Glorioso Bros. Co. Italian Food Market.  I went there for a loaf of bread.  I filled a grocery cart.  No regrets.

Glorioso's opened in the 1940s.  The same family still owns and runs it. It includes a butcher shop and meat market.  Need some fresh Italian sausage?  Regular or hot, just made this morning.   "Sausage" is pronounced "Sah-SEECH" in this part of the store, by the way.

How about some imported olives?  Great for snacks, meals and martinis.  I bought plenty.  They went fast; most are gone by now.

Freshly-made sauces.  Marinara, pizza, caprese, bolognese and more.  Mmmmmm.......

How about some exquisite imported dry-cured prosciutto?  Salty, tangy, delicious; sliced paper thin and wrapped around apiece of melon, or chopped and warmed with eggs for breakfast.

Don't care for prosciutto?  Okay, then pick up some pancetta, Italian bacon, something every serious chef needs in his or her kitchen.  And so does everyone else.

Imported Italian cheeses, both hard and soft.  A wedge of hard provolone found its way into my cart.

Freshly baked bread.  The aroma was hypnotic.

A nice bottle of lush and lemony Limoncello to sip after dinner.  Words cannot describe its wonderful flavors.

Shopping is hard work, sure to work up one's appetite.  Lucky thing for me, Glorioso's has an eating area and they'll whip up a sandwich if you ask.  I asked.  I got a fresh sesame-seeded bun with a hot-from the grill spicy Italian sausage covered with a layer of Italian beef, garnished with fresh giardineria relish.

A guy wearing an apron and a big smile walked over to my table, hand extended.  "Hey, I'm Mike Glorioso. Howza sammich?"

Incredibly good, Mike, and I'll be back again and again.

There was one more thing I needed.  I found it on my way to the cashiers stand.

Bread and butter garlic cloves, prosciutto, bread, olives and cheese.  Add a martini and it's instant happy hour.

You weren't going to keep those resolutions, were you?  If you're going to break them, at least make it with something worthwhile.

31 December 2010

Cannoli Taste Test (In The Interest Of Science, Cough Cough.)

Mmmmm.....cannoli.  Who doesn't like cannoli?

It was a quiet day here, but there was adventure in the air.  Well, maybe not adventure, more like fog caused by an unseasonably warm thermal inversion, but there was definitely something in the air.

I needed a project, something to do while spending the afternoon waiting for new Years' Eve celebrations to commence.  A science project would be good; something requiring some research and evaluation and careful thinking.  Something that would take an afternoon.

A random tweet from a friend included the word 'cannoli'.  Cannoli?  Mmmm....  Say, I wonder, which local bakery makes the best cannoli?   Learning the answer to that question would be grant-worthy scientific research.

I went to the reference library (err, iPhone) and googled 'Italian bakery' and the name of my home town. Eight listings popped up.  Their locations were mapped and a route to all eight was laid out.

The method was to buy one cannoli at each bakery, return home, undertake a rigorous taste test and evaluation, then declare a winner. Off we went, my research assistant (and grant funder) and I, to collect all eight specimens of Italian dessert wonderfulness.

The first thing we learned was that some 'bakeries' were not bakeries, but were actually just take-out pizza shops that did not sell cannoli.  They were scratched off the list.

The second thing we learned was that some bakeries did not make their own cannoli, but bought cannoli from other, larger bakeries.  I did not know that "Big Cannoli" had a foothold in my hometown, but is surely does.

Our field research narrowed the suppliers down to four sources. 

First, Scardinia Italian Bakery. 

They make their own cannoli.  We bought one.

Second, Scordato Italian Bakery located in a small shopping center.

We bought one of these, with a chocolate-coated shell.

Third, Canfora Italian Bakery.  But wait!  They were closing as we arrived.  Noooooo!  The clerk waved happily at us as she closed the side door of the bakery and walked to her car.

So we continued on to Peter Sciortino Italian Bakery to pick up our last sample cannoli.

Their cannoli were in a cooler in back, where I couldn't photograph them.  But everything else, oh my!

We took the cannoli returned to the lab where a test bench with the necessary evaluative instruments was set up.

Careful and thorough testing was undertaken by a panel of researchers.  It was difficult, painstaking, hyperglycemic work done in the name of science.

Each sample was judged on two criteria: Shell and filling. There was a discussion; notes were made, votes cast and re-cast.

The votes were counted, and the winner was.......Scordato Italian Bakery!  that would be the middle cannoli in the photo up above; the one with the chocolate coated shell. 

The chocolate coated shell had no impact on the judging.  The shells of all there were pretty much equal.  Scordata's filling was the best of the three.  It was creamy, not too sweet, a slight taste of vanilla, and unlike the others, a light slightly lemony citrus flavor.

All hail the winnner!  Actually, all three were very good, but Scordata's was just a bit better.

Having concluded the research, a nap quickly followed.  Good grief, my blood sugar may not drop below 100 until next Tuesday.  And that's when the New Year's resolutions kick in.

08 September 2010

Experimental Aircraft Association - AirVenture 2010

Watch this moving video of aircraft taken at the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture 2010.  Make sure your speakers are turned on.

If I had my life to do over again, I'd want to fly; to live in the sky if but for only a few hours a day.

Add a trip to the EAA's AirVenture to that list you're keeping of things to do before you die.  It's held in Oshkosh every summer, at the end of July.  You must see it, even if you aren't a pilot. I go every other year or so.

Now watch that video again.

04 September 2010

An Encounter With A Bad-Ass Motorcycle Gang

I live near Milwaukee, the spiritual home of Harley Davidson motorcycles.  And I'm a (non-Harley) motorcyclist, so it seems likely that sooner or later I'd have a run-in with a motorcycle gang, doesn't it?

All the usual motorcycle gangs have chapters here.  The Outlaws, Hells Angels, The Pistons, etc. are well represented.  Don't just take my word on it, take a look at what the Wisconsin Department of Justice says about the presence of motorcycle gangs in just one small part of the state in this report.  Pretty scary.

My green, leafy suburban neighborhood alone has several motorcycle gangs.  They are highly visible every weekend during warm weather.  The members dress in sleeveless shirts, leather vests or jackets, chaps, do-rags and sun glasses.  We call one gang in our neighborhood "Hell's Accountants", and the other gang the "Legion of Managers."  They're pretty mellow, compared with some of the more hard-core gangs.

I encountered some really bad-ass bikers this summer.  I hadn't planned on it, of course, but it happened.  I'd been riding for a few hours and needed a break so I wheeled to the curb in front of a coffee shop.  When I came back out after filling my coffee tank, there they were, parked at the curb, waiting for me.  Shit.  Trouble.  Out numbered.

I'd never heard of this club before.  Maybe that is because they are so secret that they don't even have a name.  Smart, very smart.  If your club doesn't have a name......how can it be included in a Wisconsin Department of Justice report about motorcycle clubs?

I looked all innocent as I carefully took four candid photos.

Cheese on a cracker - vintage Puch (say: Pook) mopeds and scooters.  Bad, totally bad.  Look at the size of that gang - all those hot bikes.  This is a bad situation.

I moved in a bit closer.

The gang members were riding mostly early to mid 1960's Puchs, with a few Sears Allstate and JC Penny mopeds thrown in for good measure.  No Cushmans, though.  Cushmans are for the bourgeoisie.

These bikes, my friends were not mere trailer queens, perfectly restored and ridden only a few miles on warm, dry days.  They were original, unrestored, and ratty.  The riders were doing all sorts of hellish antics, including riding up and down the street, exhaust baffles removed, some going as fast as 25, even thirty miles per hour!

I wanted to meet the leader of the gang.  I looked around and thought I found him.  We started talking, you know, sort of casually so I wouldn't raise suspicions.  He opened up after a while and told me - gasp! -  that being an undergrad totally sucked, and if it wasn't for his wheels and cheap Pabst beer and Ska bands he'd have punched out and entered the straight world months ago.

He saw my camera and lost his friendliness.

He turned back around and said "Okay, like I'm not the leader, I'm a co-leader because it's sorta a co-op thing, I think.  The other co-leader is over there" pointing to a young woman in shorts, a top, boots and a skin-full of tattoos.

I slunk (damn, I like that word - slunk) over to where she was standing and took a photo of her bike.  Awesome and strangely terrifying at the same time.

I've been thinking about my encounter with this gang for a few weeks now.  I think I want to join, even if I'm a bit out of their base demographic.  What the heck I do like Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, and it did fuel my undergraduate years, so maybe I'd fit right in.

And I found this on eBay.  Oh boy!

25 August 2010

40th Anniversary of Sterling Hall Bombing

I posted a comment on Ann Althouse's blog about my recollections of the night forty years ago when supposed anti-war protestors used a 2,000 pound bomb in an attempt to destroy the Army Math Research Center on the University of Wisconsin campus.

Althouse graciously took my comment ans front-paged it on her blog the next day.  Some readers of my blog aren't familiar with Althouse's blog so I have re-posted my comment below:

I was there when it happened, asleep in an apartment about eight blocks east of Sterling Hall.

The blast threw me out of bed. I scrambled into the dark hallway and ran into others; we all thought that a bomb had been detonated in the basement of our building. We ran apartment-to-apartment making certain everyone was awake and okay. Then we helped the grad students get their notes, manuscript drafts, computer data cards, etc. out of their apartments in into cars for safe keeping.

We heard the approaching sirens of emergency vehicles, and were astonished when they went past rather than stopping. It slowly dawned that the explosion hadn't been in our building, but was somewhere on campus.

More and more emergency vehicles raced past. They were heading in the direction of the (old) University Hospital. A neighbor said "My God, did a boiler at the hospital explode?" We got dressed and ran toward the hospital, partly from curiosity, and partly to offer help evacuating patients from the hospital.

The street was filled with glass three blocks away. We got to Sterling Hall, which was across a narrow street from the hospital, and saw that it's front had been blown off. One side of the hospital had been severely damaged; it's windows were gone. Nearby buildings were heavily damaged and buildings several blocks away lost their windows. There was a crater where the explosion had occurred.

My roommate asked a fireman "What happened?" He answered "It was a bomb." That answer was shocking. How could it have been a bomb? You mean someone did this on purpose? How can that be? The peace movement isn't about bombs, it's about peace?!

A cordon was set up and we were pushed back. Standing near a fire truck so I could hear its radio I heard a fireman report finding one body in Sterling Hall. Stunned, I stood for a few more minutes than walked back to my apartment.

Two days later I cut my shoulder length hair and notified my landlord that I wouldn't remain as a tenant for the fall term.

I was done with UW and Madison, except for completing my studies. I rented an apartment west of Middleton and commuted, spending as little time on campus as possible. I didn't attend my graduation.

The anti-war movement was a sham; a cover for violent anarchists. It wasn't actually anti-war; it was mostly anti-draft, and nothing more. It was over-indulged white males who didn't want to be conscripted. It would never have happened if there hadn't been a draft.

I don't have a romantic version of the late 60s in my head. I lived through it, it was horrible. Sure, the music was good, the weed was abundant, "liberated" coeds eschewed underwear, and contraceptive sex had no risk. It was still an awful time.

Karleton Armstrong was lucky. He should still be rotting in prison.

23 August 2010

Pig Roast 2010

It's a wonderful blessing to have really great relatives.  My wife's niece, her husband and their kids are a perfect example.

They throw a pig roast in their back yard every other summer.  They invite everyone they know - relatives, neighbors, friends, children's friends and dates, the dates' parents, people from the community, the kids' teachers, co-workers, the guy across the street, college classmates and so on.

It's a big event that takes a lot of hard work.  The event staff is immediate family members, and each one gets a special shirt to memorialize the event.  Shirts from previous years pig roasts are treasured collectibles.  Here's a home-built model wearing this year's shirt.

It's no easy thing, roasting pigs.  The actual roasting begins twenty-four hours before dinner.  Good oak and maple is carted in by the barrow full....

...and burned in a fire pit to make the hot coals that are used to roast the pigs.

The hot coals from the fire pit are carefully shoveled into the roasting pit, under the pigs.  There were two pigs this year; one was the traditional whole pig roasted on an open grill, and the other was a whole pig that was sectioned and wrapped in foil to cook.   The foil-wrapped pig was contributed by a friend as a sort of throw-down challenge to see which technique produced better barbecue.

I sampled both.  My opinion:  It was impossible tell which was better- we need another pig roast next year for additional sampling and tasting.   (You reading this, Karen?)

The whole pig cooked a bit faster than the foil-wrapped pig, and was taken off the grill before my camera got there.  More about what happened next in a moment.

Pig roasting is a team event.  There is an overnight team that tends the fires from 5PM to 5AM, and then the daytime team takes charge until dinner is served.

The overnight team requires special equipment.  First, the basket-o-bug repellant.

And second, the barrels-o-beer.  Note the very redneck-esque improvised thermal wrap made of R-19 fiberglass batt insulation and matching pink blanket from someone's bed.  (Side note:  When you go off to college, anything left in your bedroom is up for grabs.)

The overnight team is sort of the after-party before the actual party.  Energy is dissipated.  Sleep patterns are disrupted.  Stories are told.  Songs are sung.  Sobriety is quashed.

Meanwhile, the pigs cook.

The pigs are served Carolina style, which means pulled pork.  Pork pulling is no easy task.  It takes a dedicated and experienced crew of pork pullers (I'm wandering into dangerous territory with this sentence, aren't I?) to take apart the pigs and chop the meat.

Sadie patrols the perimeter of the table where the pig is pulled, keeping America safe from scraps that might fall to ground.  Good dog!

How about a nice  trotter hot off the grill?

Or perhaps whatever this part used to be...

Dinner was served at last.  Big pans of pulled pork and roasted chopped chicken awaited.  Just scoop it onto your plate and add barbecue sauce.

And then walk over to the big table, filled to overflowing with salads and fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. Fill the rest of your plate!

And then go outside to share the meal with relatives, old friends and new friends..

A big, big thanks to Karen, Jim, Amanda, Jack, Renae and Margaret.  We had a great time, as always.  Can't wait for the next one!

19 August 2010

Polish Regatta, Part 2

With the land games ended, (Part 1 below) it was time for the actual regatta begin.

The boats were all hand-built, mostly out of foam, conduit and duct tape and whatever other stuff could be scrounged in garages and basements.  And sea-worthy ships they were.

The preliminary event was the Sinking Dinghy race. Two dinghys were entered, each with a team of two paddlers and one bailer.  The bailer could use only a beer cup to bail water out of the dinghy.

The object was to paddle two laps around the course without sinking after the stern plug was removed. Go!

The winners made two laps without sinking. Hooray!

There was a brief intermission while a water ski team put on a show.

And now for the regatta, the main event!

The national anthem was played while a flyby....of snowmobiles....skimmed past the beach. yes, snowmobiles, racing across the lake, trying to make it to the beach before sinking.  Two made it, six did not.

The regatta begins!

Boats must be paddled for two laps in a counter-clockwise direction around the course.  Boats must have three paddlers.  Previous year's winners must add one additional person for each year they've won.  The starting cannon is fired.  BOOOM!!

Defying (or maybe too drunk to remember) the rules, the boats take off in a clockwise direction.  The first boat to capsize does so immediately after the start.

Confusion ensues as some paddles are lost overboard, some boat forgets which way it is going and the cop car boat turns on its flashing red and blue lights.

The leading boat, the green one, starts to lap the field, only to be met with ramming, pushing and general piracy.

The boats at the rear start coming apart...........

And the winner crashes into the shore.  It's the green boat - a boat made of scrap sheet metal by three engineering students.  Doggone engineers!

The winners were cheered. More food and drink was consumed.  And the large crowd loved the beautiful, wonderful, sunny Saturday spent on a sparkling lake. A perfect day, spent without thinking of work, politics or anything other than having a very good time.

Want to be there next year?  Bookmark this website.